Parents question value of son's liberal arts education

Dear Roze:

Our son just graduated from college with a liberal arts degree in history.  He’s a cashier in one of the big box stores while he tries to secure a salaried position with benefits.  From time to time, he worked for this store while he was in college and even high school.

My husband and I expected our son to get a more demanding, lucrative job given all the money we poured into his college education, but he hasn’t gotten one interview from the dozens of jobs he’s applied for.

He was an above average student, so we’re thinking he’s having so much difficulty because he has a liberal arts degree versus something like engineering or computer science.  Do you agree? 

Parents upset about son’s lack of job prospects

 

Dear Parents upset about son’s lack of job prospects:

There are different schools of thought as to whether or not a particular college major is critical to having a successful career.  I do not believe that certain college majors are the be-all and end-all.  There are external factors (e.g., job market trends) recent college graduates cannot control, but there are things they can do to positively impact their chances of securing employment.  These things include but are not limited to participating in extra-curricular activities and internships; honing their soft skills (e.g., ability to communicate, prioritize, collaborate, and multitask) which they often acquire with extra-curricular activities and internships; and networking.

I encourage undergraduate students to select a major that interests them, and I also stress the importance of having experiences outside of the classroom.  College students are shaped by the knowledge and skills they acquire inside and outside the classroom.  Upon their graduation, it is critical that they effectively articulate how all their knowledge, skills, and experiences are transferable to the jobs they apply for.

You said your son has not gotten any interviews, but you did not say what kind of jobs he has applied for.  Regardless, without being able to talk to him and review his documents and examine his presence online, it is difficult to know for sure, but is it possible that his resume, LinkedIn profile, and/or cover letters are not effectively conveying his knowledge, skills, and experiences?  And if he has a presence on other social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, has he posted something or commented on something that could be considered inappropriate or offensive?  Any of these things could be preventing him from getting interviews.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention the probability of other job opportunities for your son at the big box store.  It is not unusual for someone in his situation to fall into a rut, but encourage him to ask about more challenging positions within the company; to communicate his interest to advance; and to find out what he needs to do to make that happen.

I wish your son the very best with whatever he does.

Workplace Woes – Roze Knows®

 

Check out Roze's Facebook page, and if you have a question, email her at roze@rozeknows.com

© 2017 Rozanne R. Worrell


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